It’s time to realise superheroes say “f*ck it”as well

The other week I was speaking to my HR manager while I was in the kitchen making a cup of tea. I was having a very bad day (the shitty email after crappy follow up after pointless meeting type) and it turned out she was as well. We both had a bit of a rant, without divulging too much information, and offered sympathising phrases where we could. Normally, I would have left it there, gone out for a smoke, and got back to my desk more psychologically prepared to handle the next shitty email. Instead, I declared the day a “fuck-it day” and was met by my HR manager with the expected response of

What on earth is a fuck-it day?!

Well…

At some point in life, each of us has gone through two phases of handling a situation we don’t want to be put in, or as I like to refer to it, the

Unprepared Bungee Jump Response

Mainly, because you will have two thoughts running through your mind

  1. FUCK OFF (i.e. You’re hilarious, but I’m not doing that)
  2. Fuck it (i.e. Well we’re here now, may as well)

For the vast majority of my life I have been the former of those two. Especially when I’m mega stressed and someone asks me to do something I don’t want to do (Unexpected Bungee Jump), or more likely don’t have time to do with everything else.

That day, however, I was so overwhelmed with everything going on I just said “fuck it, im only human, I’ll do what I can”.

It was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Instead of feeling like I was in a swamp, struggling to get out and with crocs being added in occasionally to see how long I’d survive, I turned towards the crocs and battled them one at a time.

I stopped multitasking (or trying my best to multitask). I stopped trying to fight every croc at once. Stopped spending energy when it didn’t need to be spent.

And instead, I became more focused. I went at one thing at a time, crossed it off and moved to the next. I stopped caring that work wouldn’t be done, because I was flying through it.

I completed 5 out of the 7 tasks I needed to do, and the remaining 2 weren’t due for another week. I had time. For the first time in what felt like months, I could relax at work. I didn’t work past 4 on that Friday. Instead I went and socialised with everyone else and it was bliss. I wasn’t feeling guilty for it. I wasn’t too worried about having to get back and get stuff finished. I didn’t work over the weekend. I told myself

I am doing a good job. I am working really hard. I am producing excellent work. If I can’t do it this week then there’s always next week.

Why does this matter?

Saying fuck it helped me realise I’m only human. I’m not a superhero. I can try to be a superhero, but I can’t cram 58 hours into a 40 hour working week. I can’t juggle 5 shit storms and not get coated in crap. But if I just put 4 of them down for a minute, I’ve got a damn good chance of turning one into a light drizzle at worst.

We need to realise that we are not superheros that need to fly in and save everyone from everything. Sometimes we have to step back and say “I can’t help with that right now” or “if that needs to be done this week, then this thing you asked for this week needs to move to next week”. We need to get better, as humans, at being human. Superheroes are a fictitious ideal, where one person can save us all from the doom we are about to face. It’s bollocks. We work ourselves to the brink trying to prove we are the superhero everyone needs, without knowing they need it. Truth is, if things need saving, people will pool together to save it. Not just one person, not just you.

Declaring that day a fuck-it day helped me understand that I was juggling too much; but in realising that, I was able to refocus and reprioritise what needed to be done and what could be done by other people, or as part of a team. I stopped putting so much pressure, and so much responsibility, on myself.

Now I have at least 1 fuck-it day a month. Not because I get so overwhelmed by everything every month, but so I can reassess what I’m doing and make sure it’s the right thing. Will this drive results? Does a client need to see it? Could we use some of these hours to do something that would deliver results, keep a client happy, and show the company is proactive? These are the kinds of questions you need to ask yourself to make sure you’re staying on track.

It’s easy when you’re wading through a swamp of crocs, or juggling shit storms left right and centre, to forget the purpose of what you’re doing. You just want to get it done so you don’t have to worry about it anymore. But what good is just crossing off a task? It doesn’t deliver insight in itself, you still need to do that. It doesn’t monitor it’s performance, you still need to do that. It doesn’t log the time you’ve spent on it, you still need to do that.

Regardless of how many things you cross off, there will always be more that needs to be done to make sure the work you’ve put in is paying off and can be attributed to you.

I challenge you

Give yourself 1 fuck-it day this month.

See if it helps you. The art of a fuck-it day is it will bring out different sides of people. Either you will be focused and organised getting through your work. Or you will use it as an excuse to not do any work — the type of procrastination everyone had at uni, “I’ve got so much to do, but I’m going to make a cup of tea and chat in the kitchen for an hour instead”.

How to say “fuck-it” but not forget about it

  1. Understand that you have too much work due in a week.
  2. Reassess what definitely needs to be done this week. Not everything will.
  3. Reprioritise the most urgent work. Not necessarily timescales, but if a client is really annoyed will doing this early help curb that? Do you have time to do it alongside other hard deadlines?
  4. Work through priorities. Use a reward system. If you procrastinate by making tea and having a chat, make your next tea your reward for completing something.
  5. Break your day into manageable chunks. Refuse meetings that are one after the other. Ask people to message you instead of popping to your desk. Put DND on Slack. Let yourself have the time to get things done.
  6. Keep note of everything you’re working on. You can cross them off as they are done and see a visual representation of how productive you’ve been. And you won’t forget what needs to be done the next day.
  7. Leave on time. Don’t stay late “just to finish this last bit” because you’ll try and finish the whole list. Leave on time. Tackle the rest tomorrow.
  8. Realise nothing, especially at work, is a one-person task. You have people supporting you whether they are in your team or not.
  9. Don’t try and be a superhero. The responsibility is immense and you will never live up to the challenge. Just be damn fucking good at your job and say fuck it to anyone who tries to test you.

Each one of us is a hero in our own right, but true “superheroes” don’t exist and if they did they would say “f*ck it” to a lot of situations.

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